Report: Thunder To Sign Caron Butler

Thunder officials aren't commenting on reports the team has reached a tentative deal to bring in forward Caron Butler.

Butler reached an agreement on a contract buyout with Milwaukee yesterday and won't clear waivers until 4 p.m. Saturday. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported the  deal with the Thunder earlier today.

Butler is known as a solid defender and a pretty good 3-point shooter. He's averaging 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists for his career. This season with the Bucks he averaged 11 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

"Tough, tough player, that's why they call him Tough Juice, I guess," said Thunder superstar Kevin Durant when asked about his thoughts on Butler.

"He plays hard and from I've seen he's a team first guy," Durant added, "and he's a long, strong defender so he could do a lot for us."

Just how good of a defender Butler is at this point in his career is up for debate but remember what was said about Derek Fisher and his lack of being able to play defense when he first came to the Thunder. Fish has proven to be pretty darn sold on both ends of the floor.

Thunder forward Nick Collison cautioned though, "things aren't done, till their done."

As to Butler's game, Collison agreed with Durant, "I've always respected his game, he's a guy who could help a lot of teams. He can do a lot of things. He can shoot the ball from three, he's a natural scorer and I think he's a tough physical guy. So I've liked his game over the years for sure."

Now days Butler is mostly a spot-up shooter who can help the Thunder space the floor and take some pressure off Durant and Russell Westbrook.

According to Synergy Sports 35 percent of Butler's shots in Milwaukee came off spot-up opportunities and he hit 42 percent on 3-pointers coming on spot-ups.

The Thunder have two open roster spots and enough room under the luxury tax line to pay Butler a bit more than the league minimum.

Unless something falls through at the last minute, Butler is expected to be in Oklahoma City tomorrow and could be in uniform for Sunday night's game with Charlotte.

Grizzlies Tonight

The Thunder expect a bear of a game with Memphis tonight. When they're going good the Grizzlies can present all sorts of problems and they're going good right now, having won five of their last six games and 15 of 20 since center Marc Gasol returned from injury.

In the past Thunder center Kendrick Perkins has been able to switch off and cover both Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph at various times. Perk's defense helped the Thunder limit those two to just 26 combined points the last time these two teams played.

Perkins won't be there tonight so rookie Steven Adams will have to play well to help hold the line along with Serge Ibaka and Collison.

Collison has played Randolph particularly well over the years and Nick believes it's because he's so familiar with Randolph's game.

"I've played him a lot in my career, we came into the league at similar times, I played USA Basketball with him when we were in college, so I've seen him a lot."

And with Collison, familiarity with Randolph does not breed contempt.

"I really like his game, because he's physical, there's not a lot of complaining to the referees, just go out and play and you battle. So I have a lot of respect for his game and he plays as hard as anybody."

Memphis can also hit you from the outside with point guard Mike Conley and shooting guard Courtney Lee.

So tonight will be a stiff test for a Thunder defense that has been abused lately.

"Our communication," has been the biggest problem on defense Durant said, "we had good intentions and we were there on a lot of stuff but our communication is the reason why they got a few wide open threes and a few layups. But I think we can correct that by just talkin' up."

We'll find out tonight if the Thunder can not only talk the talk but walk the walk against the Grizz.